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February 28, 2011Lorenzo Romar stated the obvious.
"Well obviously that's not how we scripted it," Romar after his Washington Huskies' surprising 80-69 loss to Washington State Sunday night that completed a Cougars' sweep of the Huskies this season.
Washington suffered its first loss this season at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion and was officially eliminated from the Pacific-10 Conference title race.
The Huskies dropped to 19-9 overall and 10-6 in the conference to fall two games behind UCLA and Arizona in the Pac-10. Washington State improved to 18-10 and 8-8.
The Cougars used stifling defense to disrupt the Huskies on offense, and held Washington to only 17 first-half points, the lowest point total in a half during Romar's nine seasons at the UW.
The Huskies shot a dismal 34 percent from the field for the game, rallied late but never led in the second half.
"We haven't played a home game like this all year," Romar said. "Give Washington State a lot of credit. I thought we would be ready to play. We weren't able to get into any kind of rhythm."
The Cougars were able to limit the opportunities for the Huskies main stars, Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning, especially in the first half. Bryan-Amaning did not score a basket until almost seven minutes into the second half, and Thomas was held to only four first-half points.
But the Huskies did make a run late in the game, cutting the Washington State's once-bulging 21-point lead to six points with just over 4 minutes remaining.
The Cougars then went on a 9-0 run that proved to be too much for the Huskies to overcome. Thomas' hot shooting late helped Washington get back into the game and he finished with 21 points and five assists.
"I do think we fought back, but we didn't fight enough," said senior Justin Holiday, who finished with 11 points and five assists.
Klay Thompson was the key for the Cougars, finishing with 26 points, half of which came from the free throw line.
DeAngelo Casto dominated the Huskies inside with 20 points and 13 rebounds. The Cougars also used some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to secure their lead, and they finished the game 32-of-36 (89 percent) from the line.
"Whether we are the first or the 10th team to win here, at this point we really just needed a win," Washington State coach Ken Bone said. "Obviously they are a great team who will do very well in the Pac-10 and NCAA tournament, and we were fortunate to come in and beat an excellent team."
The loss could not have come at a worse time for the Huskies as they started their final home stand of the season. Now, with nine losses, the Huskies will almost certainly need to win out to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. Last season, UW was able to go on a winning streak at the end of the season and ride the momentum all the way to the Sweet 16. But based on their performance Sunday night, the Huskies look out-of-sync and nowhere near to where they want to be heading into March.
"I think we're going to be OK," Holiday said. "I think we are a team that knows what we want and has been through certain situations like this, and I think we are going to be able to answer it. I sure hope we do."
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